Something that's been bothering me since I left New York City, but it's taken on renewed emphasis since moving here to San Diego. There's just too much split inside the marketing community:
- SDX (formerly Ad Club of San Diego)
- American Marketing Association (national and San Diego chapter)
- Direct Marketing Association (national and San Diego chapter)
- Business Marketing Association (national now part of Association of National Advertisers, and Southern California Chapter)
- Social Media Club (national, and defunct San Diego chapter)
- 89 groups on LinkedIn (many of which have <100 members)
- 100+ groups in Meetup (many of which have <100 members)
It's hard enough to sustain this many groups in a city of almost 9 million and a metro area of over 25 million. It's virtually impossible to do so in a city 1/8th the size. It wasn't much better in the Bay Area with 6.5 million, but with that irritating "Peninsula/SF vs. Silicon Valley crap. I can't imagine Chicago, Atlanta, Houston or other Top 10 cities fare much better, let alone smaller metro areas.
I'm not necessarily advocating a single group. What I do think is needed is a more collaborative, federated approach at both the local and national levels.
- Better Scale. By bringing together groups that overlap a little, sometimes a lot, we can get size and scale we couldn't get otherwise. Many of these groups suffer from the same too-small number of attendees. A similar federated approach has been taken by the San Diego MBA Group, which brings together 10 East Coast MBA schools (including my alma mater, NYU Stern School of Business, but also Columbia, Wharton, and others). They realized a while ago that they couldn't get the level of participation just from their schools, but if they had regular joint activities, suddenly they got critical mass.
- Enhanced Innovation. Innovation happens at the intersection. It's where two or more disparate subject matter domains interact with one another that interesting things happen. Music and video? The Virtual Choir. Mobile and Cloud? The API Economy. If we got different marketing, strategy, and digital domains together, really interesting things could start to happen, and drive a more dynamic, interesting community.
- Millennial appeal. Millennials tend to be more collaborative, and less hierarchical (per a few recent studies like this one from IBM). All this hyper segmentation I suggest is a turn off rather than a selling point, making it harder to collaborate across disciplines, setting up duplication of effort, and too much emphasis on narrow domain expertise. Millennial are less patient for this kind of stuff than their older counterparts, I would wager.
Don't get me wrong. I love San Diego, especially for its sunny, laid-back vibe (why do you think I left San Francisco and New York City?). But it doesn't mean we still can't have a vibrant, interesting and ultimately fulfilling professional and entrepreneurial community here.